[-empyre-] Topic 2: NA: Newness and Alterity/Weirdness, Blom

Lichty, Patrick plichty at colum.edu
Fri Sep 21 02:08:57 EST 2012

For a second topic along our discussion of The New Aesthetic, I'd like to refer to two articles by Ian Bogost and Marius Watz.  In the first, "The New Aesthetic Needs to Get Weirder" (Bogost), HE TAKES THE ooo (Object Oriencted Ontology) approach to NA in that out anthropocentric approach to NA, that is, our qualifying the images our machines make, is just scratching the surface.  He argues that why are we obsessing about human artifacts through a human ontology?  Of course, this is pure OOO, but he makes a point; if NA is not about the human gaze or human aesthetics, why qualify them with such criteria?  Why not obsess about bonobos or cliffs, or icebergs through their perspectives?  

Yes, this diverges from the idea of the machine/computational gaze, and thus my argument for NA's roots being with Noll, Knowlton and Schwartz, et al.  I agree that in some ways NA does not take itself far enough at all - it should be trying to fulfill its OOO potential by exploring non-human aesthetics through non-human qualifiers (if we are, indeed, capable of determining this).  What would this look like?  Would it be the machine vision of the Terminator as he scanned around the bar in The Terminator?  Or, can we go a little closer to home and consider aesthetics of the great apes, and what their culture produces. 

Secondly, Marius Watz, in his article that was linked on The Creators Project talked about the concept of "eternal newness" in context of NA.  In my opinion, the conversation about novelty is nothing new in regards to any cultural product that incorporated the "new" trope which brings it under scrutiny.  However, after reading his piece, I am inspired to think about new ontologies and the potential for their endless expansion or the misnomenclature of "newness" (i.e. New Media, Neue Sachlichtheit, New Music).  Both problematize NA in interesting ways, perhaps the former more than the latter.  Could NA get weirder by creating new aesthetics by considering things like "By robots, for robots?", and as I have written before, is NA merely a trope that becomes a genre that becomes a historical moment (movement) like New Media?

I hope this provides fuel for the next few days' conversation.

Patrick Lichty
Intelligent Agent Magazine
c/o Columbia College Chicago
916/1000 S. Wabash Ave #104
Chicago, IL USA 60605
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